Colorado

8 Weekend Getaways in Colorado: Craft Beer, Gondolas, and Cycling Adventures

Breathe in the crisp mountain air with these weekend getaways in Colorado full of gondolas, craft beer, and cycling adventures.

It’s easy to spot the tourists in Colorado by how they drive in the mountains. Death grip on the steering wheel, riding the breaks on every downhill turn, license plate any color but green. I get it. I used to be terrified of those harrowing alpine passes, too. Now I could take those switchbacks in my sleep, a proverbial badge of pride for having lived in Colorado for more than half a decade. It’s hard not to chuckle as they try to maneuver the sharp curves, though.

Crossing the mighty Rockies is often a necessary evil to enjoy the bounty of natural wonders the state has to offer. The peaks stand like a protective wall, sequestering our little utopia from reality. A real-life Never Never Land, Colorado is where adults come to forget their troubles and unwind. It’s a place where people work to live, not live to work with midday hikes and cycling commonplace. It’s a place where you can be whitewater rafting in the morning and hot springs hopping in the afternoon, or sipping a craft beer on a patio and watching the many passersby. It’s no wonder everyone is flocking here, yet you still feel a twinge of resentment wanting to keep the secret to yourself just a little bit longer.

Breathe in the crisp mountain air and you’ll see immediately why nature is the cheapest therapy here. Gondola rides never get old and it’s hard not to stare in awe of the hazy, snow-covered peaks in the distance. No matter how many times you drive through the Eisenhower Tunnel, if you don’t hold your breath out of superstition, you’re doing it wrong. They say it’s about the journey as much as the destination, and nowhere does that ring truer than a road trip through the Rocky Mountain State.

Here are eight of the many places to get lost during a weekend getaway in Colorado.

Aspen

Colorado Tourism, Matt Inden/Miles

Once a humble mining town, Aspen has since transformed itself into a playground for the social scene. A number of “see and be seen” restaurants promise fine dining and celebrity chefs with price tags to match. Matsuhisa and Element 47 are some of the best. There are food and musical events held throughout the summer, the crème de la crème being the ritzy Aspen Food & Wine Classic.

When you’re ready to explore the grandeur of your surroundings, the Maroon Bells are one of the most photographed areas in the state. Nearby rafting and scenic hot air balloon rides also allow you to check a few adventures off your bucket list.

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The Little Nell gained quite the following for its popup caviar and champagne après ski bar. But make no mistake; it’s just as swanky in the summertime.

The Little Nell

Top rated
Aspen, 0.4 miles to Paepcke Park
9.2 Excellent (221 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Gym
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Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods lit up in sunset colors, Matt Inden/Miles

Colorado Springs is Colorado’s second largest city, but you’d never know it because all the major draws are nature-based. Wander Garden of the Gods, a gorgeous free landmark of towering sandstone rock formations. If you really want to challenge yourself, you can hike the Incline, a popular pursuit for the athletically inclined that boasts 2,000 feet of elevation gain in less than a mile.

If that’s not your thing, you can just as easily enjoy the relaxed boho vibe of neighboring Manitou Springs. The town is sprinkled with fountains sought after for their mineral healing properties. Waste away the day at the old-fashioned Penny Arcade and ice cream parlor, and peruse the local boutiques (there’s even a whole store dedicated to rubber ducky’s). Mona Lisa Fondue makes for a fun and interactive dining experience, but for a more casual bite, Heart of Jerusalem Café is always hopping.

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An AAA Five-Diamond resort, The Broadmoor is pure luxury and home to an award-winning spa, golf course, and endless outdoor recreational opportunities from zip lining to guided hikes.

The Broadmoor

Top rated
Colorado Springs, 1.3 miles to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
9.2 Excellent (1184 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.6 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

Denver

Cherry Creek North, Denise Chambres/Miles

As Colorado’s main urban hub, Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and a magnet for active, outdoorsy millennials. Wander the street art in RiNo snapping photos of your favorite murals (the alley behind Denver Central Market is always buzzing). With 300-plus days of sun a year, it’s always patio season. With a microbrewery on seemingly every block, it’s easy to make your own boozy brew tour, or you can try all the local sips in one spot with First Draft’s innovative self-service card system where you pay by the pour.

Food halls are big business here (perhaps since we’re also known for the munchies). Avanti was one of the OGs with a killer rooftop and vendors to please even the pickiest of palates. When you’re ready to work off all the carbs, rent a B-Cycle from one of the bike share stations around town and hit up Cherry Creek Trail or Wash Park. You’ll see plenty of other young professionals getting their midday sweat on, often with a four-legged friend in tow.

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Hotels in Denver are popping up like weeds, but Le Meridien brings a sophisticated touch to the Mile High City and is within an easy walking distance of downtown. Their rooftop bar 54thirty is the highest in the city (pun intended) and one of the Denver’s chicest new hotspots.

Le Meridien Denver Downtown

Top rated
Denver, 0.1 miles to 16th Street Mall
8.8 Excellent (350 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Pets allowed
Gym
Restaurant
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Estes Park

A resident herd of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, Matt Inden/Miles

The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is 415-miles of protected wilderness just an hour or so from the city. Wander the trails until your legs fall off (Dream Lake is a personal favorite), make friends with the locals (feathered and furry), and take in the epic alpine views. This is what Colorado’s all about.

If you like being spooked, the Stanley Hotel was what inspired Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel in The Shining and they run nightly ghost tours and hunts. If you need to take the edge off with a different kind of spirit, their whiskey bar is home to a massive library of booze. The food isn’t shabby either.

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If you aren’t afraid of what goes bump in the night, The Stanley Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a member of Historic Hotels of America.

The Stanley Hotel

Estes Park, 5.7 miles to Rocky Mountain National Park
7.8 Good (2853 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.2 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
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Glenwood Springs

The Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs, Matt Inden/Miles

Great for families, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the place to keep the kids busy while mom sneaks off to melt away her stress at the nearby hot springs and Vapor Caves, which are still a secret hideaway most tourists overlook. The youngsters will squeal with delight as their stomachs drop on the giant canyon swing overlooking a crazy backdrop.

The whole crew can stretch their legs at Hanging Lake, one of the most popular hikes in the state. The water is shockingly turquoise and the plants bizarrely appear to be suspended in mid-air (not from the neighboring thrill rides). Once you’ve worked up an appetite, the Pullman or Riviera are two of the town staples.

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Basic accommodations central to town, Glenwood Springs Cedar Lodge is conveniently located near major attractions such as Hanging Lake and Glenwood Caverns.

Glenwood Springs Cedar Lodge

8.0 Very good (3011 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.6 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Gym
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Palisade

Vineyards beneath a sandstone butte in Colorado’s Grand Valley, Denise Chambers/Miles

On Colorado’s western slope near the Utah border, Palisade is the state’s secret wine region. Home to 25 vineyards, the fruit, and wine byway is best explored on two wheels, which has three different bike loops. The area is also known for its peaches (swing by any farm stand for a sweet treat) and has harvest festivals almost every weekend throughout the fall. Palisade Brewing Company and Peach Street Distillers offer other beverage options if you’re feeling wined out (micro-batch spirits FTW), but you only have to make it a liquid dinner if you want to.

For a quirkier attraction, the SunCrest Orchard Alpacas is a farm where you can hike, craft and capture hilarious selfies with some newfound friends.

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Set on a vineyard, the Wine Country Inn is directly part of the wine byway so you don’t have to break pace at the end of the night. Stays include complimentary tastings so sip and swirl to your heart’s content.

Wine Country Inn

Top rated
9.1 Excellent (1852 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
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Steamboat Springs

Fly fishing near Steamboat Springs, Matt Inden/Miles

Steamboat is your idyllic mountain escape without the buzzkill of I-70 traffic (which has been brutal lately considering how fast the city’s growing). The town still manages to remain somewhat like a local secret even though anyone who’s ever been there returns to sing its praises to anyone who will listen.

You can beat the heat by floating the Yampa River, which runs parallel to town. You’ll know your pull out spot when you hear live music from Sake2U’s patio wafting down. Make your way up to the hopping happy hour for sushi and tunes overlooking the river. Peruse the local art galleries as you dry off and wait for the sun to go down. Strawberry Park Hot Springs are clothing optional after dark and perfect for some adults-only nighttime fun.

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The Rabbit Ears Motel isn’t fancy, but it is iconic. Conveniently located in the center of town, the property is on the downtown bus route, but you could just as easily stretch your legs and walk the length of the route.

Rabbit Ears Motel

8.2 Very good (1155 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Air conditioning
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Vail

Skiing fresh tracks in Vail, Matt Inden/Miles

While most think of Vail as a winter retreat, summer is really the secret season in the valley. Ski runs convert to mountain biking trails with the same green, blue, black diamond difficulty designations. You can tour the mountain in an open-air 4×4 vehicle, fly through the treetops on the alpine coaster, or play hooky on the high ropes course. Mountain Standard has been a favorite dining spot for years, and if you’re looking for a divey nightcap, the George is dimly lit and primed for debauchery (not that I would know anything about that).

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Boutique luxury in the Village, the Sonnenalp Hotel is a family-owned boutique European style property. Surrounded by rolling hills of wildflowers, you may think you’ve actually been transported to the Alps.

Sonnenalp Hotel

Top rated
9.3 Excellent (957 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.6 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
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